It is raining buckets outside as I write this, with the occasional deep rumble of thunder (exceedingly rare in these parts!), and I’m cozy in here with a cup of tea, thinking back on the past year. 2022 was a year of major change for me and my business, and I feel that the dust is just now settling, and I’m able to clearly see the path ahead.
Last spring, I finally made the decision to change my business completely, letting go of what has been at the core – producing and wholesaling my organic fabrics – so that I can really focus on the creative aspects that I love most. It had been an idea that I’d been toying with for years, and in fact I was poised to make the change in spring of 2020, until Covid hit and sent me back to the safety of business as usual.
It was a difficult decision to make, because I really love almost every aspect of the work I do. In a pinch, I can even get excited about the things that aren’t my favorite, like the bookkeeping, and tracking the inventory through the shipping and customs ordeals. I have loved the relationships I’ve built with my customers, and I love getting to wear all the hats required to bring the fabric to market. But that last point – that’s the thing. I may like to wear those hats, but they don’t all fit equally well, and I struggle to look good while wearing them all at the same time. I like my role as a solopreneur, or at least a very small operation, but you can only go so far on your own, and there are still so many other things I want to do.
While I was in New York city last March I got a call from Mickey at Windham Fabrics, and we hammered out a rough plan to collaborate. It felt like the perfect solution: I had always enjoyed the Windham crew at Quilt Market – and admired their roster of fabulous designers. Licensing my art would allow me to focus on the art and design, while actual professionals took care of the mill relations, the quality control, the sales, the marketing, the inventory purchase, importing the fabric and customs, storage, and packing and shipping orders to customers. Whew! And also, this would allow me to expand into other product categories, which is something I’ve wanted to find the time to do for years. So I took the leap!
In April, I sat in my spring garden, making sketches and brainstorming collection ideas. By June I was working on final color ways, and by July all the final files were sent to the mill and the collection was underway.
And then, things got real. Because licensing to Windham Fabrics meant I could no longer wholesale my own fabrics, so I needed to sell out of all my existing inventory in a hurry. And then I didn’t really need my warehouse. So the last 6 months has been an absolute circus of moving all of my remaining inventory (and props, Quilt Market booth, mannequins samples and patterns) into my living room, where I sorted though it and sold as much as I could. It’s been a slow winding-down of 12 years of this business that I loved, but I’m grateful that I have gotten to be as hands-on through the process. This fall and winter I cut and bundled hundreds of yards of fabric, packaged remnants, and even excavated some of my very first fabrics to send off to good homes.
As this new year starts, I’m painting every day, working on a new collection, and committing to write more here on the blog. Tomorrow I will ship off the last batch of orders from the shop, and then I’m going to take the shop down for a few months while I refresh it, and shift the focus. My first collection with Windham goes on pre-sale to wholesale customers later this month, and while I will miss the interface with my customers, it’s a revelation that I can just focus on creating the next collection of prints. It’s been a process for me to learn that I don’t have to do ALL the things, but I think I might get the hang of it yet.
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